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  OBITUARY  

December 03 - 09 , 2010

 

 Coastweek   Kenya


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Lorna Phyllis Lally De Lannoy
Hayes
(nee Hills)

Born, November 28, 1915 - died, April 12, 2008, aged 92.

FOR Many YEARS a very pro-active CHAIRMAN OF
THE MOMBASA AND COAST TOURIST ASSOCIATION

an appreciation by former Shipping correspondent
JOHN WALTERS - now living in retirement in Kent, U.K.

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Coastweek -- As a child, my occasional memories of Lorna Hayes were of a forbidding lady, with an unexpected twinkle in her eye.

As a young man, on one of my rare visits to Kenya, my memories were of a formidable lady with a wicked sense of humour, who never stopped ...

Born on 28th November,1915, Lorna was intensely shy throughout her life, and it was only her determination to do always the right thing that enabled her to achieve so much.

Educated initially at Queen Anne’s, Caver-sham, and later at Felcourt School near Lingfield, she became, despite her shyness, Head of School and captained the hockey and tennis teams.

After leaving school, she completed a short-hand and secretarial course, becoming sufficiently competent to record Hansard for the House.

In late 1938, Lorna signed up with the [Womens] Auxilliary Territorial Service at the Royal Air Force Kenley spending some time learning how to drive the heavy Albion lorries.

Coastweek -- COMPLETING TWENTY YEARS SERVICE: Mrs Lorna Hayes as chairman of the Mombasa and Coast Tourist Association 1987. COASTWEEK PHOTO - NETA PEAL

For many of the A.T.S. girls, gear changing required both hands and at the start of the war, women were barred from driving the Heavy Goods Vehicles on medical grounds; whether it was the Drivers’ health, or the nearby pedestrians, I cannot relate.

As war approached, the Womens Auxiliary Air Force was formed, and Lorna, along with many of her A.T.S. colleagues transferred to the new service as a lowly ‘erk’ (airwoman).

After a rapid promotion to Corporal, in October 1939, Loma was promoted to Sergeant and sent to the W.A.A.F. Depot, including in her hectic schedule the role of Bass Drummer in the W.A.A.F. Band when she be-came known as ‘the Big Noise’.

In May 1940 Lorna was offered a choice of Commission electing to become an administrative officer.

It was during her service in the W.A.A.F. that Lorna made a number of lifelong friends, including Honor Bannennan, whose daughter later married one of Lorna’s brothers.

Coastweek -- Recruiting poster 1940 for the Womens Auxiliary Air Force: Lorna, along with many A.T.S. cadets, moved to the service.

Lorna travelled widely during the war, and ended her service as the Officer-In-Command [equivalent of 'Squadron Leader'] W.A.A.F. in the Far East.

It was during the war that Lorna discovered that life in hot climates suited her far more than the chilblain-blighted winters of England.

Turning down promotion to Wing Officer [Wing Commander], Lorna was demobilised in 1946, and returned home to Lingfield, where she became, briefly, an Agent for the Conservative Party.

In 1950, after passing an inter-view with the formidable ladies of the ‘Society for the Settlement of Overseas British Women’ Lorna worked her passage to Kenya and thus began a love affair with that country that lasted the test of her life.

Starting in the Kinangop, very humbly and with the help of good friends, she manned the post-office and helped with running a hotel; she eventually went to Nairobi and became Secretary to The Electors’ Union, becoming closer to the Mau-Mau conflict than she had planned.

Still working for the Kenya Electors Union, Lorna returned to the U.K. in the mid-50’s to run down and close the Voice of Kenya offices in London, subsequently working for an organisation called Universal Aunts.

After her mother’s death in 1958, and a spell helping some friends out running their hotel, Lorna returned to Kenya in 1961, eventually settling in Mombasa and ultimately becoming involved with tourism throughout that country.

     

She married Monty Hayes, a retired coffee planter, in 1972; who pre-deceased her by twenty years.

[Monty was well-known to the North Coast deep sea angling fraternity during his time as manager of the popular Mnarani Fishing Club in the mid '60s].

Each year, she would make a Safari to England; oddly for someone who was so renowned for her organisation and efficiency, her safari clashed every year with Wimbledon, but once that event was out of the way, she would continue her grand tour visiting her family and friends around the country.

Modest, perhaps to a fault, Lorna recorded very little about her achievements in the field of tourism.

 

 
     
 

Coastweek -- Former Coastweek Shipping correspondent JOHN WALTERS - now living in retirement in Kent, U.K. PHOTO - NETA PEAL

 
     

In addition to running the major travel agency in Mombasa she became chairman of the Mombasa and Coast Tourist Association in 1967, relinquishing that position in 1987, but remaining a very active member of the Committee until leaving Kenya in 2000.

She also carried out a number of voluntary roles; including:

Member of the Mombasa Hospital Board,

Chairman of a number of Vo-luntary associations and boards, as well as

Correspondent to the British High Commission for the north coast areas.

Through her tour industry connections she also became involved with the upgrading of Mombasa Airport to an inter-national airport, and was generally known as ‘Miss Fix It’ around Mombasa (and perhaps further afield).

Finally, she was always generous with her finances, particularly to the local people who seemed to love her for what she was.

Her choice of employment over the years has always been directed to where the maximum amount of personal service has been possible for her country or for the people living there.

Her many years of service was recognised by her award of the MBE in 1991.

In 2000, Lorna decided to retire from her adopted home and returned to live at Lingfield with her family.

However, in 2002, due to declining health, Lorna was accepted into the college of Saint Barnabas, whose loving care, both physical and spiritual sustained her in the last years of her life, and we thank all those both residents and staff who have given that care so unstintingly.

Lorna had a deep and abiding love for Kenya and its people; what mattered most to Lorna was that Kenya should be counted as one of the foremost countries in the world to be visited.

 

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